Due to Weather Delay, NASA & SpaceX Push Historic Launch to Saturday

On Wednesday, May 27th, NASA and SpaceX geared up for what was sure to be a historic event! After years of hard work, the Crew Dragon capsule developed through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program would dock with the ISS for the first time. This launch would effectively restore domestic-launch capability to the United States, something it lost in 2011 with the retiring of the Space Shuttle. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t get the memo!

Less than 15 minutes before the Crew Dragon was to launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, mission controllers scrubbed the flight because the weather was not clearing up. As a result, NASA and SpaceX pushed the launch of the Crew Dragon to their two backup launch opportunities, both of which will be happening this weekend.

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U.S. Space Force is Looking For a Place to Put its Headquarters

In the past year, the newly-formed US Space Force has taken a number of steps to set itself apart as an independent service branch. This included adopting a logo, uniforms, a flag, specialized training for career tracks, a recruitment video, and conducting its first missions (like the recent launch of the X-37B). And now, they have announced that they have adopted a revised approach for locating a headquarters.

Previously, the US Space Force was to be headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. The revised approach, instituted by the Department of the Air Force and the Office of Secretary of Defense, takes into account the emerging organizational structure of the USSF and the impact it will have. This move expands the number of possible locations for a permanent USSF base and an analysis process for choosing the final spot.

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The SpaceX Starship Could Fly This Summer!

SpaceX is really coming along with its development of the Starship and Super Heavy launch system. After repeated delays caused by structural failures (aka. explosions), the company got back on track late in April when their fourth prototype (SN4) passed the crucial cryogenic load test. This was followed by a successful static fire test on May 4th, followed by a second static fire test the next day.

And, after being scrubbed three times since last Friday (May 15th), SpaceX conducted the third static fire test with the SN4 on Tuesday, May 19th. Unfortunately, an unexpected fire near the base of the rocket caused the prototype to get a bit scorched and caused some internal damage. However, the prototype survived and is back in working order, which means SpaceX is moving ahead with more tests in preparation for a full-scale launch.

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Space Force is Starting to Train its Soldiers to Fight… in Space?

On February 19th, 2019, the US Space Force (USSF) was officially created with the signing of Space Policy Directive–4. This effectively broke off from the US Air Force Space Command (AFSC) and made into the sixth and youngest independent branch of the armed forces. Since then, the USSF has established a headquarters, taken on staff from the US Air Force, and even produced a recruitment video!

In their latest announcement, the US Space Force stated that it will begin training soon to develop their staff’s “space warfighting skills.” This will include training personnel to specialize in orbital warfare, electronic warfare, military strategy, and others. The immediate aim is to produce personnel who can control US space infrastructure and protect it from physical, electronic, or digital attacks.

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Space Force Launches its Mysterious X-37B Spaceplane

On Sunday, May 17th, at 09:14 a.m. EDT (06:14 a.m. PDT), a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The payload for this mission (USSF-7) was none other than the super-secret X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), which is flying to space for the sixth time (OTV-6) as part of a US Air Force (USAF) and US Space Force (USSF) joint-operation.

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Another Starship Success! Raptor Engine Fires for 4 Seconds and Nothing Explodes

Last week, SpaceX passed another milestone in the development of its Starship prototype. This was the crucial engine static fire test, which saw the fourth full-scale Starship prototype (SN4) ignite a fully-integrated Raptor engine for the first time. The successful test took place on Tuesday night (May 5th) at 08:57 PM local time (09:57 PM EDT; 06:57 PM PDT) and saw the Raptor engine ignite and fire for four full seconds.

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Venice From Space Looks Very Different This Year

The Coronavirus shutdown has given us an unprecedented opportunity to look at our civilization a little differently. We all have our own ground-level view of life during this pandemic, but our satellites are giving us another look at this Earthly pause on a grand scale. The latest view comes from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission.

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Japan Suspends its Funding for the 30-Meter Telescope

Japan has suspended its funding contribution to the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in Hawaii. An international consortium is behind the TMT, which was proposed for the summit of Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is one of the most desirable observing locations on Earth. It’s already host to several observatories, including the Subaru Telescope and the Keck Observatory. The $1.4 billion TMT would be the most powerful telescope there.

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